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From A Southern Oven

Monday, October 8, 2012 8:08 am EDT

No one knows Southern cooking quite like Jean Anderson. A long-time food editor and the author of such books as A Love Affair with Southern Cooking and Falling Off the Bone, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of Southern food. Anderson began experimenting in the kitchen when she was four years old. Growing up in Raleigh, NC, she was encouraged by her mother to make the Southern recipes that excited her. As she grew older, so too, did, her passion for Southern baking. Her “ah-hah” moment came when she discovered that Southerners bake just as many savories as they do sweets -- from main-dish puddings, pies, and shortcakes to an impressive array of casseroles, gratins, and scallops.

In From a Southern Oven (Wiley Hardcover; $32.50; October 29, 2012), Anderson’s mission is to honor the South’s great tradition of baking—all of it. This thoroughly researched collection includes more than 150 savory and sweet recipes for appetizers and snacks, main dishes, sides, breads, and desserts, with gorgeous full-color photography to offer inspiration.

Anderson spent more than a year researching the recipes, some of which date back to Colonial times, while others are decidedly modern. New or old, all recipes were tested as many as three times to make sure they work for today’s cooks.

Conveniently organized into two sections, “The Savories” and “The Sweets”, From a Southern Oven is a welcome addition to the Southern cookbook shelf because it focuses on foods you bake, braise, or broil in the oven. Best of all, most require little “baby-sitting” once they’re in the oven. Talk about easy! Talk about delicious! If it’s comes from the oven and it's Southern, you'll find it here:

  • “The Savories” include appetizers like Pecan Cheddar Pennies (no Southern tea table or cocktail party is complete without them!), Crab Cups, and Mushroom Tassies. Main dishes? How about Chicken (or Turkey) Boudine, a popular 1920s/30s party casserole; Blind Hare, a mid-19th-century crumb-crusted beef, ham and pork loaf that’s special enough for a dinner party; or Open-Face Vidalia Pie, a thoroughly modern way to showcase Georgia’s superbly mild onion? Then there’s Philpy, a forgotten quick bread made with left-over rice that deserves to be rediscovered. Ditto Green Tomato Bread.
  • “The Sweets” include dozens of strictly Southern desserts like Chocolate Chess Pie and Pecan Thumbprints plus a magical Water Lily Pie with two distinct layers of meringue; an Antebellum Rice Pudding dating back to 1850; a Peak Season Peach Soufflé, which if made with the ripest of peaches, can ace any prize-winning crisp or cobbler; and the long-lost Orange Christmas Cake that many of Anderson’s Southern friends remember fondly from their childhoods.

Throughout From a Southern Oven, Anderson dishes up juicy bits of lore enlivening the recipes and their origins in a way that few authors can. If you love Southern food in all its soulful glory, this winning collection of oven goodness is a must-have, a book guaranteed to become dog-earred and splattered in record time.


Claire Holzman, 201-748-6352

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